The European Union's European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) aims at bringing the EU and its neighbours closer, to their mutual benefit and interest. It was launched in 2004 to help the EU support and foster stability, security and prosperity in its closest neighbourhood. In 2015, the EU launched a public consultation and review of the policy, with a Joint Communication adopted in November 2015 to adjust it to the challenges and crises that have hit the neighbourhood regions since 2008.
The European Neighbourhood Policy governs the EU's relations with 16 of the its closest Eastern and Southern Neighbours. To the South: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine*, Syria** and Tunisia, and to the East: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. Russia takes part in Cross-Border Cooperation activities under the ENP, but is not part of the ENP as such.
Focus on stabilisation
At the heart of the EU's neighbourhood policy lies the stabilisation of the region, in political, socio-economic and security-related terms. The EU is committed to supporting the economic development of its partner countries, and to improve the aspirations, hopes and prospects of the local population, while keeping a strong focus on good governance, democracy and the rule of law. This commitment translates into action through the implementation of sustainable regional and bilateral programmes and projects on the ground.
“Our most important challenge today is to find ways for the young men and women in our region to see a meaningful future; a sense of belonging to a local and global community where they can offer and get rewards for their individual skills. We need to send them the message that we see the future of this region as one of cooperation and exchange” – Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
For the period 2014-2020, the European Neighbourhood Policy has a budget of €15.4 billion.
A tailored and flexible partnership
Two key principles of the European Neighbourhood Policy are differentiation and ownership. This approach recognises the different aspirations of the partner countries in developing their relations with the EU. The EU and the countries set the partnership priorities together, focusing each relationship on shared interests. This allows for a sense of ownership.
As well as showing flexibility in tailoring support to each partner country’s ambitions, the policy also provides flexibility in the use of financial assistance, enabling the EU to react more efficiently to new challenges, such as conflict and post-conflict needs, disaster response, and security.
The activation of new Trust Funds in response to conflicts in Syria and Africa are examples of how the EU's financial instruments can react quickly and flexibly.
The policy proposes four priority areas: good governance, aiming a fostering a just, inclusive and stable society with maximal respect for human rights and space for civil society; economic and social development, including the creation of job opportunities for youth, as key measures for economic stabilisation in the region; cooperation in the security sector, mainly in the areas of conflict-prevention, counter-terrorism and anti-radicalisation policies; migration and mobility, which tackles mobility on the one hand, and irregular migration, human trafficking and smuggling on the other. Finally, attention is also paid to energy security and climate action.
Funding for the European Neighbourhood Policy comes from the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), with an allocation of over €15 billion from 2014-2020.
The bulk of funding is used for bilateral cooperation, tailor-made on the needs of each partner country, and based on agreed partnership priorities or association agendas, which provide the framework for political engagement and cooperation.
The European Neighbourhood Policy supports regional cooperation initiatives:
To find out more about the European Neighbourhood Policy, click here.
For key policy documents, click here.
* This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.
**The EU suspended all its bilateral cooperation with the Government of Syria and its participation in regional programmes in 2011.
EU and Neighbours: evolving relations
Cooperation, peace and security, mutual accountability and a shared commitment to the universal values of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, are the founding principles of the special relationship between the EU and the Neighbourhood countries of the East and the South. The aim of that partnership should be “to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterized by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation”, according to the Treaty on European Union. Since it was launched, in 2004, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has been strengthening relations, bringing tangible benefits to both the EU and its Neighbourhood partners, including the introduction of regional initiatives and support to democratisation.
- EU and Neighbours: evolving relations
- The ENI – what’s new?
- Six ENI targets
- How support is given
- Priority areas
- Involving Civil Society
- From the ENPI to the ENI
- ENP and Action plans
- EU: a major donor
- Background Info
Relations and goals will be further advanced through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), which has replaced the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) , so that it reflects real needs and considerations that have emerged over the years. The Regulation setting up the ENI underlines that it should give support to the implementation of the political initiatives shaping the ENP, including the Eastern Partnership and the Union for the Mediterranean.
Giving incentives and rewarding best performers, as well as offering funds in a faster and more flexible manner, are the two main principles underlying the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) worth over €15 billion from 2014-2020.
Based on the experiences gained until today, the ENI will support the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and turn decisions taken on a political level into actions on the ground. Effective from 2014 to 2020. the ENI seeks to streamline financial support, concentrating on agreed policy objectives, and make programming shorter and better focused, so that it is more effective.
The ENI will build on the achievements of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) and bring more tangible benefits to both the EU and its Neighbourhood partners. It has a budget of €15.433 billion and will provide the bulk of funding to the European Neighbourhood countries through a number of programmes.
The 16 ENI Partner Countries are:
- ENI South - Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine**, Syria*, Tunisia
- ENI East - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine
* EU Cooperation with Syria is currently suspended due to the political situation
** This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.
Relations with Russia: Russia has a special status, as relations with this country are not developed through the ENP, but a strategic partnership covering four “common spaces”. Therefore it is only eligible for ENI regional and Cross-Border Cooperation programmes, for which it co-finances projects. Bilateral cooperation with Russia is funded under the new Partnership Instrument (PI).
What makes this instrument more effective, is that, under the ENI, assistance to Neighbours will:
- Become faster and more flexible, reducing the complexity and length of the programming process so that the relevance of the assistance is not undermined;
- Offer incentives for best performers through the more-for-more approach that allows the EU to increase its support to those partners that are genuinely implementing what has been jointly agreed;
- Be increasingly policy-driven based on the key policy objectives agreed with the partners, mainly in the ENP bilateral action plans;
- Allow for greater differentiation so that the EU allocates a greater proportion of funds where aid can have the highest impact;
- Aim for mutual accountability so that it takes greater account of human rights, democracy and good governance when it comes to allocating assistance.
The ENI will also encourage closer links between the EU and partner countries to enable their citizens to participate in successful EU internal programmes, such as on student mobility, youth programmes or support to civil society.
Special emphasis will be given to engagement with civil society. This funding instrument, that responds to the evolving relations between the EU and its partner countries, will continue to ensure the success of the democratisation process and improve economic and social development in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood. Itwill support the reform process already undertaken by the partner countries themselves.
- Fostering human rights and fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, equality, sustainable democracy, good governance and a thriving civil society;
- Achieving progressive integration into the EU internal market and enhanced co-operation including through legislative approximation and regulatory convergence, institution building and investments;
- Creating conditions for well managed mobility of people and promotion of people-to-people contacts;
- Encouraging development, poverty reduction, internal economic, social and territorial cohesion, rural development, climate action and disaster resilience;
- Promoting confidence building and other measures contributing to security and the prevention and settlement of conflicts;
- Enhancing sub-regional, regional and Neighbourhood wide collaboration as well as Cross-Border Cooperation.
Support through the ENI is programmed and given in three different ways:
- Bilateral programmes covering support to one partner country;
- Multi-country programmes which address challenges common to all or a number of partner countries, and regional and sub-regional cooperation between two or more partner countries;
- Cross-Border Cooperation programmes between Member States and partner countries taking place along their shared part of the external border of the EU (including Russia).
The Regulation setting up the ENI elaborates on the way it will work and the priority areas. Detailed information about each programme can be found in Annex II of the Regulation. More types of support and other programmes are available to the Neighbourhood.
- Boosting small businesses;
- Civil-society engagement;
- Climate change action;
- Energy cooperation;
- Gender equality promotion;
- Gradual economic integration;
- People-to-people contacts;
- Transport connections;
- Youth and employment.
Through the ENI, the EU seeks to support the strengthening of the capacity of civil society organisations to guarantee effective domestic accountability and local ownership, and to play a full role in the democratisation process. According to the ENI Regulation, external action partners, including civil society organisations and local authorities, are involved in preparing, implementing and monitoring EU support, given the importance of their roles. Furthermore, civil society organisations are called upon to participate in the development of the three financial programmes – the bilateral, the multi-country and the cross border cooperation – and will be, together with local and regional authorities, their main beneficiaries. A clear demonstration of the backing offered to civil society is the fact that support may even be increased, in case there is a serious regression in the country. More specifically, the ENI Regulation stipulates that the support and the amounts given to partner countries will be based on their progress achieve and thus can be reconsidered. However, this incentive-based approach shall not apply to support to civil society, people-to-people contacts, including cooperation between local authorities, support for the improvement of human rights, or crisis-related support measures. In the event of serious or persistent regression, such support may be increased, it underlines.
The ENI will be replacing the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument – known as the ENPI. ENPI funding approved for the period 2007-2013 was €11.2 billion.
ENP and Action plans
The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) aims at bringing Europe and its neighbours closer, supporting political and economic reforms in sixteen of Europe’s neighbouring countries as a means of promoting peace, stability and economic prosperity in the whole region. It is designed to give greater emphasis than previously to bilateral relations between the EU and each neighbouring country.
The bilateral Action Plans are the main documents guiding the partnership between the EU and its partner countries participating in the ENP. This political document reflects the priorities agreed between a country and the EU and spells out the planned economic and political reforms with short and medium term priorities. More information can be found in the ENP section of this website.
The EU is a major donor for the Neighbourhood. The total amount agreed for the EU’s external relations package is €51,419 million over the period 2014-2020. The Neighbourhood is also supported by some of the other instruments.
The other instruments and money allocated are:
- Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA): €11,699 million
- European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI): €15,433 million
- Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI): €19,662 million
- Partnership Instrument (PI): €955 million
- Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IfSP): €2,339 million
- European Instrument for Democracy & Human Rights (EIDHR): €1,333 million
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a policy initiative launched at the Prague Summit in May 2009 that aims to bring the 6 Eastern neighbours - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine - closer to the EU. It represents the Eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and strengthens bilateral relations between the EU and its partners. It is based on shared values of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. It also encompasses support for a market economy, sustainable development and good governance.
The EU and partner countries leaders meet every other year in Eastern Partnership Summits.
The Joint Declaration of the EaP Summit in Riga, held in May 2015, emphasized the strategic importance of the Partnership as “one based on mutual interests and commitments and supporting sustained reform processes” in the Eastern Partner countries. The next Summit will take place in 2017.
The Partnership provides the framework for a stronger political engagement with the EU, namely:
- a new generation of Association Agreements;
- integration into the EU economy with deep free trade agreements;
- easier travel to the EU through gradual visa liberalisation, accompanied by measures to tackle illegal immigration;
- enhanced energy security arrangements;
- increased financial assistance;
- deeper cooperation on environment and climate issues;
- increased people-to-people contacts and greater involvement of civil society.
On 27 June 2014, the EU signed Association Agreements (AA) with Georgia and the Republic of Moldova and completed the signature process with Ukraine, each providing for a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). The Agreements will significantly deepen political and economic ties between the EU and the three Eastern Partnership countries with a long-term perspective of closer political association and economic integration.
As for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus, the EU has been applying a more tailored approach to relations with these countries in order to help ensure the inclusive nature of the Eastern Partnership taking into consideration the differences of the countries in the Eastern Neighbourhood, including when it comes to their foreign policy priorities. A new agreement is being negotiated with Armenia, whose political and economic cooperation with the EU will take account of Armenia's other international commitments. The EU is also considering entering a closer relationship with Azerbaijan, to better reflect the Union’s respective interests and values. With Belarus, the EU is deepening its critical engagement in carefully calibrated mutual steps.
The ENP review in November 2015 spelled out the EU's renewed approach to its eastern and southern neighbours. Under the revised ENP, stabilisation of the region, in political, economic, and security related terms, will be at the heart of the new policy. Moreover, the revised ENP puts a strong emphasis on two principles: the implementation of a differentiated approach to the EU’s Neighbours, to respect their different aspirations, and to better answer EU interests and the interests of its partners; and an increased ownership by partner countries and Member States.
How it works
The EU cooperates and supports EaP countries through bilateral and multilateral dimensions. The bilateral dimension supports political and socio-economic reforms in partner countries to:
- Foster political association and further economic integration with the EU
- Enhance sector cooperation
- Support mobility of citizens and visa-free travel as a long-term goal.
The multilateral dimension complements bilateral relations with:
- Thematic platforms to exchange best practices on issues of mutual interest: good governance, economic integration and growth, energy security and transport, contacts between people;
- Flagship initiatives, which are regional cooperation programmes in the fields of: energy, environment, response to disasters, border management, support to small businesses.
This work is based on four thematic platforms, supported by various expert panels and a number of flagship initiatives. These initiatives seek to mobilise multi-donor support, funding from different International Financial Institutions and investment from the private sector:
- Eastern Partnership flagship initiative: small and medium size enterprises
- Eastern Partnership flagship initiative: energy
- Eastern Partnership flagship initiative: environment
- Eastern Partnership flagship initiative: prevention, preparedness and response to natural and man-made diastases
- Eastern Partnership flagship initiative: integrated border management
- Eastern Partnership flagship initiative: sustainable municipal development
- Eastern Partnership: Multilateral Cooperation
There are four EaP main priority areas:
- Mobility and people-to-people contacts
- Market opportunities
- Financial cooperation
Besides governments the EaP involves broader society. This is done through the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, the Conference of Local & Regional Authorities for the Eastern Partnership, the EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly and the EaP Business Forum.
In the period of 2014-2020, the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), worth over EUR 15 billion, is the key EU financial instrument for cooperation with the EaP countries.
In 2007-2013, the funding came from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). Nearly EUR 2.5 billion was made available for cooperation programmes with Eastern European Partners in 2010-2013. This included EUR 350 million of additional funds made available when the Eastern Partnership was launched.
Find out more
Milestones Eastern Partnership
- 1 January – DCFTA between Ukraine and EU becomes operational
- 25 March - ENP Progress reports on 5 Eastern Neighbours
- 21-22 May – EaP Summit in Riga
- 1 September – Beginning of the provisional application of DCFTA between EU and Georgia, some provisions of AA/DCFTA between EU and Moldova enter into force
- 18 November – European Commission presents a review of European Neighbourhood Policy(ENP)
- 21 March - Ukraine signs political part of Association Agreement
- 27 March - ENP Progress reports on 5 Eastern Neighbours
- 28 April – citizens of Moldova start travelling visa-free to Europe
- 27 June – Georgia and Moldova sign Association Agreements; Ukraine signs Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) provisions of Association Agreement.\
- The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) comes into force with a budget of EUR15.4 billion for the period 2014-2020 replacing the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI).
- 20 March - ENP Progress reports on 5 Eastern Neighbours
- 29 November - Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit in Vilnius: Moldova and Georgia initial Association Agreements with EU; Ukraine (under then President Yanukovich) defers initialling, which results in mass protests leading to fall of government and early elections
- ENP Progress reports on 5 Eastern Neighbours
- Council sets priorities of cooperation with South Caucasus
- Eastern Partnership Summit in Warsaw
- Launch of the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities of the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP)
- EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly launched
- ENP Progress reports on 5 Eastern Neighbours
- Launch of renewed European Neighbourhood Policy
- EU strengthens European Neighbourhood Policy with €5.7 billion for 2011-2013
- Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum launched
- Eastern Partnership launched during Summit in Prague
- Southern Corridor Declaration adopted by the EU, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Egypt and Turkey
- Commission Communication on Eastern Partnership
- Black Sea Synergy launched at ministerial meeting in Kyiv
- ENPI launched
- Commission communication on strengthening the ENP
- Commission communication on European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)
The ‘Union for the Mediterranean’ promotes integration across 15 neighbours to the EU’s south in North Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans.
Formerly known as the Barcelona Process, cooperation with these neighbours was re-launched in 2008 as the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). This was an opportunity to maintain a platform for political dialogue while making relations more operational, with the initiation of new regional and sub-regional projects relevant to those living in the region. Projects address areas such as economy, environment, energy, health, migration, education and social affairs.
The UfM encompasses the 28 EU Member States, the European Commission and 15 Mediterranean countries, which makes a total of 43 UfM member states:
Austria; Algeria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; The Czech Republic; Egypt; Finland; Germany; Hungary; Italy; Latvia; Lithuania; Malta; Monaco; Morocco; Portugal; Romania; Slovenia; Sweden; Tunisia; The United Kingdom; Albania; Belgium; Bulgaria; Cyprus; Denmark; Estonia; France; Greece; Ireland; Israel; Jordan; Lebanon; Luxemburg; Mauritania; Montenegro; The Netherlands; Palestine; Poland; Slovakia; Spain; Syria; Turkey.
The UfM is chaired by a co-presidency shared between the two shores of the Mediterranean – the EU on the Northern side, and Jordan on the Southern side.
After a slow start, the pace of UfM dialogue intensified in 2013 and 2014 with ministerial meetings held on: women, transport, energy, industry and environment and climate change and digital economy, blue economy and regional cooperation. The holding of these ministerial meetings shows that the process has gained important momentum, even though it remains vulnerable to domestic priorities and instability in the region. Senior Officials Meetings take place regularly. In preparation of Ministerial meetings, this is complemented by Ad Hoc technical Senior Officials Meetings.
The UfM Secretariat is based in Barcelona. Since March 2012, Fathallah Sijilmassi has been its Secretary General. Its mandate is focused on identifying, processing, promoting and coordinating projects, which enhance and strengthen cooperation, and impact directly on the livelihoods of citizens. The EU provides substantial support to the UfM Secretariat and contributes to 50% of its operational budget.
The UfM Secretariat focuses on identifying and promoting projects which enhance and strengthen regional co-operation and impact directly on the livelihoods of the citizens in order to improve socio-economic development, regional integration, sustainable development and the exchange of knowledge among and within the members of the UfM. Lately, there has been increasing support of the Secretariat to policy dialogue (climate, energy, water, environment…) and the Commission supports the idea of transferring some of the responsibility for organising various EuroMed meetings (industry, transport) also to the secretariat.
As per the Joint Declaration of the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean of 13 July 2008, the Secretariat is mandated to work specifically on a number of key initiatives in the following areas: De-pollution of the Mediterranean, Maritime and Land Highways, Civil Protection, Alternative Energies: Mediterranean Solar Plan, Higher Education and Research, Euro-Mediterranean University; the Mediterranean Business Development Initiative. Until now, the UfM has endorsed 47 projects; some are under implementation (including, for some, with EU funding notably through the NIF).
The UfM seeks to play a role in improving people’s lives in the Euro-Mediterranean region through concrete projects. To achieve this goal, it gathers regional, sub-regional, or transnational projects in six strategic priority areas:
- business development,
- social and civil affairs,
- higher education and research,
- transport and urban development,
- water and environment,
- energy and climate action.
While the project size and scope vary – from micro-projects on employment and women entrepreneurship to macro initiatives such as the Mediterranean Solar Plan – they all share a strong political and economic relevance. Projects can be proposed by national, regional and local authorities and institutions, the private sector, international institutions and civil society organisations.
A list of UfM-labelled projects can be found here.
Parliamentary Assembly - Union for Mediterranean (PA-UfM)
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean builds on the work of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly established in 2004 as the parliamentary dimension of the Partnership set up by the 1995 Barcelona Declaration.
It consists of 280 members, equally distributed between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean. The PA-UfM holds at least one plenary session per year. It adopts resolutions or recommendations – though these are not legally binding – on all aspects of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation that concern the executive organs of the UfM, the Council of the EU, the European Commission and the national governments of partner countries.
Euro-Mediterranean Local and Regional Assembly (ARLEM)
ARLEM is a consultative assembly, which aims to increase the involvement of local and regional actors in the Union for the Mediterranean and to give it a territorial dimension. It gathers 84 Members from the 43 UfM member states, who are representatives of regions and local bodies holding a regional or local authority mandate.